Cary, NC — Interstellar, the latest from director Christopher Nolan (of The Dark Knight and Inception), is an ambitious space epic about mankind’s need to explore.
The film is filled with some of the most breathtaking visuals of the year as well as numerous set pieces that are just as thrilling as anything the director has ever done. However, there are a few missteps Nolan makes that keep Interstellar from being the masterpiece we hoped for.
Set in the not too distant future, Interstellar opens with our world at the beginning of its end. Earth has been overcome with drought and famine, and the only industry still booming is farming out of sheer necessity. Matthew McConaughey plays Coop, a former NASA pilot and engineer-turned-farmer. Coop ends up stumbling onto a top secret mission led by the now defunct NASA in a bid to find habitable planets using interstellar travel.
Flawed, But Still Epic And Thrilling
The plot is slightly more complicated and more put together than I just described here, but to say anymore would be doing you a disservice. Nolan has crafted a future that is so without hope that the majority of the world’s population no longer believes that one of the greatest feats in the history of man, the moon landing, was real.
Nolan uses that despair to his advantage, as the rest of the film deals with all of the best wonders science has to offer. Space travel, wormholes, the theory of relativity. It’s probably the most hopeful film Nolan has made so far.
Lacking Emotional Connection
I am a huge fan of Nolan. I have loved all of his previous films, but many would argue that those movies can come across as a bit cold. In some cases, that might be the point. For instance, his film The Prestige is an engrossing examination of the inherent mistrust people can have for one another.
But overall, most of his films lack that emotional connection that Spielberg creates in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I don’t think that Nolan was ever going for anything like that. His films are still filled with big ideas and grand film making of the highest level.
With Interstellar, Nolan is dabbling with that emotional connection, and it still feels like he’s keeping us at arms’ length. McConaughey’s character has a moment when, due to the manipulation of time in a black hole, he sees his children’s video messages that span more than 20 years in one sitting.
It’s a devastating moment for McConaughey, but there’s something about the way Nolan handles the scene that just comes off a bit, well, cold. In fact, most of the moments dealing with his children come off that way. Thankfully, Nolan rebounds a bit with a satisfying conclusion, but that coldness is enough to keep an already great film from being one of the greats.
McConaughey Is As Good As Ever
Have I mentioned before that I love Matthew McConaughey? Well, I love Matthew McConaughey. Always have, always will. I think that, as a fellow Texan, I’m just engineered to be a big fan. Lucky for me, he has had the best two years of his career, and his performance in Interstellar is no different. As I mentioned before, McConaughey absolutely nails the part of a regretful father, as well as displaying all the confidence and humor he’s most known for.
The rest of the cast is peppered with Nolan regulars like Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine, both of whom do good work. Of course, it’s always great to see John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun) show up, even if only for a few moments.
There’s also a big name cameo who arrives late in the film, but I won’t dare to spoil it here. The appearance is treated in a matter-of-fact way, but the inclusion takes the film in a sharp left turn and ends up being one of the most exciting sequences in the entire movie.
See Interstellar, And See It in IMAX
Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious project to date, and while he doesn’t completely succeed, I have to admit that the film has stayed with me these past few days and continues to grow in esteem the more I think about it. Be sure to see Interstellar in IMAX, the biggest screen possible.
Unfortunately, this small Kansas town I live in now does not have one, but I can guarantee I’ll be seeing Interstellar in the large format before it leaves theaters, and I highly recommend you do the same.
Jordan Hunt covers the movies for CaryCitizen. He made a recent move from North Carolina to Kansas, but continues to cover film openings for this publication. Read more of Jordan Hunt’s Movie Reviews.